SOCIAL Farming is an innovative use of agriculture to promote therapy, rehabilitation, social inclusion, education and social services in rural areas.
The farm is not a specialised treatment farm; rather it remains a typical working farm where people in need of support can benefit from participation in its activities in a non-clinical environment.
It also creates the opportunity to reconnect farmers with their local communities through the opening up of their farms as part of the social support system of the community.
A key activity of Rural Support is developing Social Farming in Northern Ireland.
Since October 2015, the Social Farming Support Service (SFSS) (NI) has been situated within the charity after support was
provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The service aims to further develop the Social Farming network, promote best practices in the delivery of services, and co-operate with other Social Farming initiatives to raise public awareness of the concept and its progression.
To continue to raise awareness of social farming and the benefits of the service for both the farmer and the participant, Rural Support is holding a Social Farming Awareness Week where it will have five open farm days across the week on operating social farms.
This is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the important work of Rural Support’s Social Farms across Northern Ireland. Currently it has 15 farms that are delivering 28 Social Farming sessions per week supporting 85 participants with support needs.
Social Farming Awareness Week is an opportunity for anyone interested to find out more and see Social Farming in practice.
The week is for anyone who may want to consider Social Farming as an option for them or someone they are supporting, including referral organisations, farms, potential participants and their families.
Simon Bullock, from Annagh Social Farm, commented: “It has been a privilege to welcome participants to our social farm since we started delivering in 2013.
“Seeing the real impact it has had for these individuals over the years has been extremely rewarding for us as a family.
“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our farm during Social Farming Awareness week and explaining the many health benefits our participants enjoy.”
Running from Monday, October 3, to Friday, October 7, Rural Support will have five open farms across all Health and Social Care Trust areas:
n Monday, October 3: Laurelview Equestrian Centre, 10.30am-12.30pm at 18 Knowehead Road, Templepatrick, Ballyclare, BT39 0BX;
n Tuesday, October 4: Annagh Social Farm, 10.30am-12.30pm, at 430 Belturbet Road, Derrylin, Enniskillen, BT92 9BR;
n Wednesday, October 5: Jubilee Farm, 11am-1pm at 50 Glenburn Road, Glynn, Larne, BT40 3JY;
n Thursday, October 6: Yellow Road Farm, 11am-1pm at 11-41 Yellow Road, Hilltown, Newry, BT34 5UD;
n Friday, October 7: Behind the Stable Door, 11am-1pm at 40 Kylestone Road, Bangor, BT19 6FJ.
n Booking is essential as numbers are limited.
n To book a place at one of the social farms you can contact Nikki Foster, Social Farming Support Service Co-Ordinator, on 0800 138 1678 or email email@example.com
If you would like to find out more about social farming and the range of services and programmes available at Rural Support go to the NI Farm Support hub at www.ruralsupport.org.uk or telephone the Support Line on Freephone 0800 138 1678, available Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.